West Coast Livin

It’s been almost a week since taking the red eye in from LAX and while I had no problem sleeping on the plane, per usual, the back and neck stiffness that followed was no joke. The week was majestic, restful, beautiful, and exciting, and some of the things that had been shrugged off became the most amazing part of the trip.

Having only been out to the west coast twice before (and both times to LA), exploring San Francisco with my family was a brand new adventure and one we had been planning for quite a while. So Tuesday morning we flew into SFO and headed straight for In-and-Out Burger, because when in Cali. A large number of burgers and fries were consumed hastily so we could head out to our first adventure: the Golden Gate Bridge and some of the more touristy spots of the city. While still a little foggy when we arrived we got to watch the marine layer start lifting beyond the bridge over the 1-2 hours we were there exploring. We went up to Marin Headlands and ventured a short way on to the bridge, even with the wind about to knock you over. It was majestic and fun to explore, but upon arriving at our sleepy beach town Holiday Inn Express in Pacifica we knew this place was something special.

In all seriousness we could have stayed right there and we would have been completely content. There were miles of trails both in the hills and on the oceanfront; there were shops close by, the whales were active and we could sit there for hours just watching, the weather was perfect, and free breakfast. So Wednesday morning, Jon, Katie, dad and I went on our first morning trail adventure; this was probably the shortest of the adventures but it was a blast heading up to the edge of the cliff, getting stuck on a mountainside, and still getting in just shy of 5 miles. After breakfast we headed down to half moon bay and rather than enjoying the beach we spent a few hours down the main street of this cute beach town, looking in shops, stopping at a bakery, and doing some photography of course. We topped it off my eating at this cash only fish trap, hidden right on the water chowing down on some of the freshest!

Wednesday also brought dinner with my cousin who lives in the city, Jenn. Being a burger loving family, Habit Burger in Daly City hit the spot as we all enjoyed a dinner together catching up and getting ready to see the WHOLE family in December for Katie’s wedding.

Thursday we were up and at ’em again, this time with mom in tow, to go exploring the other side of our hotel. This adventure was much more epic as we were all out for over an hour on different trails, on different hills, and my favorite taking the oceanfront all the way down (this was a solo act), getting in a solid 6-7 miles of perfect weather and perfect scenery was peaceful and relaxing, Jesus you are too good. We spent the rest of the day in the city, although we all agreed we could have just chilled in Pacifica and been hunky dory. Ghirardelli Square, Pier 39, Maritime explorations, and night-time Alcatraz tours were the highlights of this day and while were exhausting on our way back the day was so worth it! Sourdough at Boudins, ice cream at Ghirardelli, and taco salads at a surfer stand on the Pier were the best eats (oh and the mini doughnuts).

Sadly Friday eventually came and after some time outside and breakfast it was time to head to grab our rental car and head down the coast. A few tips 1. Take the upgrade. We went from a Prius to a Charger and it was well worth it. 2. Stop in Soquel at a tiny whole in the wall on the main street called the El Chipotle. 3. Take in the PCH but beware that Pebble Beach costs money to go to. 4. Take ALL the stops along the Big Sur Highway each view is unique and stunning. 5. Take Dramamine the mountains are plentiful 6. Stop at random places that might scare you on the way 6. Do the drive ONCE. It’s long and exhausting but completely incredible when you do it with someone you love. 7. Stay on Ventura Harbor, the sunrise on the boats is amazing. 8. Give yourself plenty of time to drive to LAX from Ventura in case you are in a charger and the police are out and about.

After a tearful goodbye, Jon started his adventure home and Zack and Kristen showed up a few minutes later for our short but busy adventure to begin. We headed straight for the expo and made it out in our 30 minute free parking window with 2 minutes to spare. Then we headed over to Disney Springs to browse and grab lunch while we waited to check into our hotel. I might have eaten all the chips and guac, it’s fine. We parted ways with Zack, checked into my 3rd Holiday Inn of the week and freshened up before we headed back to Disney Springs to spend a little more time before we ordered room service and hit the hay!

While my body didn’t so much mind the 3:15am wake up call since it was 6:15am Atlanta time I had to rally Kristen, but she was pretty well on top of things. We grabbed our bars and coffee and walked (which is a nice change of pace to the buses you have to catch at WDW) to the start line. We got a quick picture with the banner, fueled, and walked to the corrals. Hot & Humid was an understatement – I clearly brought my southeast weather with me. Kristen did AMAZING in her first half marathon. We snagged some pictures, were excited to see angels stadium and then the finish line and she ran the WHOLE time. She’s a rockstar – of course I already knew that. Zack came to see the finish and spent the next hour with us as we changed and recovered with food and drink, well as best you could in the heat. The rest of the day was spent in the parks with frequent air conditioning and sitting down breaks. We had upgraded to a park hopper the day before and that was well worth it. My favorite moment in Disneyland Park was my interaction with Cruella de Ville; in California Adventure there were a few: pretty much everything about Carsland, meeting Black Widow, and the pride of riding Guardians of the Galaxy (if you know me you know I HATE drops – and it was confirmed here), and California Screamin’.

Although dehydrated and sore we survived and had a great day together. As we headed to the airport I became super thankful for the past 9 years of friendship and our desire to keep exploring together, and I’ll see her in a few months this time on the east coast! Woohoo.

Now it’s time to get ready for the Food & Wine Festival and the Wine & Dine weekend in just over 50 days, back in the homeland. Thankful for this week of rest and excited for the fall ahead.

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